I am very fortunate to have a large and close family. I have lots of cousins around a similar age, which meant we spent a lot of our childhood years in and out of each other’s houses, and remain close now. This year has been difficult living away from my family, it’s hard at the best of times, but after not seeing them for nearly a year, and not knowing when I will next see them, is tough. I wanted a way to find a deeper connection to my family than the frequent Zoom and FaceTime calls, so I decided to reach back and explore my roots, and delve into my family tree.
This is not an easy undertaking, I know, especially when I have to do as much as I can in a day, My mum is a fountain of knowledge on her family history but has also put hours and hours of research into tracing back her family name as far as she can. I started drawing a basic family tree with me and my sister at the bottom. I just managed to fit in my dad’s eight cousins before realising with my mum’s fourteen cousins, I definitely wasn’t going to fit everyone in.
I decided to just concentrate on my mum’s side of the family for now, that is what I had the most information for after all. My mum couldn’t put her hands on her own version of the family tree but could locate all the paperwork, so we spent some time trying to decipher different names from censuses and death certificates going back hundreds of years. This was really difficult at points because there was a trend of naming the children after the parents, so we had to work out which George married which Isabella and so on which led to a bit of confusion when I thought my mum was telling me that my Great Great Grandparents were brother and sister! I thought I’d uncovered some dirty family secret, but thankfully just got the names a bit muddled.
With my mum’s help, and let’s be honest, using all of her research, I managed to follow the family tree way back to 1788 to my Great, Great, Great, Great Grandfather. The family stayed in the same place until my Grandad moved across the country in the 1970s. I found this beyond interesting, I really wish I could spend more time looking into it and helping my mum research her family history. My dad’s side is going to take a bit more work, but I would love to carry this on as an ongoing project.
I loved this so much, and despite the distance, felt a deeper connection to my family and it’s history. It made me look back beyond the present and think of all the different generations that have come before, and also stayed close. This was definitely one of my favourite new things so far, and it’s something I hope I can pick up again in the future.